Greetings! The Issekai genre as we all know is one that is flooding the anime scene of late. Just in the last year we have had multiple popular series which have fallen into the genre including my pick for best anime of 2016- Re:Zero. Also premiering in 2016 was a series with a vastly differently tone than Re:Zero. This series explores the notion of the fantasy world setting not through a dramatic critique but through the art of parody. The series I am referring to is of course Konosuba and on this installment of Chibi Reviews I will discussing both seasons of this franchise.
Konosuba follows the adventures of Kazuma Satō, a teenage shut-in. After an unfortunate death, Kazuma meets the goddess Aqua, who offers to reincarnate him in a parallel world with MMORPG/fantasy elements. Here he can go on adventures, battle monsters, and aid in the quest to defeat the Demon King which plaques the world. Kazuma, who is allowed to take one thing with him to the world, chooses Aqua after she insults him repeatedly. The two form a party and soon recruit two other members each with issues of their own. The first is an explosion-obsessed magician/chunni named Megumin and the second is a masochistic crusader named Darkness. Due to the party’s dysfunctional abilities, Kazuma finds that his new life is not as glorious as he had hoped as he and his party encounter numerous obstacles and problems.
Konosuba continues of recent trend of shows where what you expect is not what you get. Reading a generic description of this show gives the impression that this series is a typical Issekai show- by no means is this the case. Konosuba is full of surprises from start to finish.
The first of these surprises and the main strength of Konosuba rests with the cast of characters.. Aqua, Megumin, Darkness, and Kazuma are all characters which while insanely flawed are just incredibly likeable. Kazuma is a complete jerk, Aqua is entirely self absorbed, Megumin gets lost in her delusions, and Darkness seeks out physical punishment for no good reason. These traits in many other stories would lead to annoying characters but that is not the case in Konosuba. These traits are actually what make you like them. These characters despite their flaws are not evil people or malicious, they are just an exaggerated version of many of us and that makes them relate able and likable. We all have had dreams of grandeur like Megumin, wanted the world to serve us like Aqua, and feel hopeless lost at times and frustrated like Kazuma. The characters and their flaws are the center of amazing and sarcastic comedy. This comedy really stems from the interaction between the characters and their amazing chemistry. Some of the best bits of Konosuba are the dialogue exchanges between the characters themselves especially with each pointing out the flaws and shortcomings of each other while denying their own. The four from the beginning feel like a group of friends who have been through thick and thin together and have no concerns with being honest with each other. This is due to both the amazing writing and the performance by the amazing voice cast. And Megumin is best girl, no doubt.
Besides the main cast, the world of Konosuba is filled with wacky and amuzing characters. Even rivals (looking at you Yunyun) and villains all contribute to its absurd charm. In many series, the supporting cast generally acts as a sense of reason or a way to point out the insanity of the main characters. However in Konosuba, they contribute to the humor and provide an additional depth to the comedy. The main cast on it’s own in funny enough but the supporting cast of characters intentionally or not contribute to their trials and the humor that accompanies it. Having this also contributes to making the main cast feel as if they part of that world on an additional level and let’s enjoy their charm instead of being annoyed by it. So what if you can’t take the characters seriously? Everyone in that world is a bit nuts.
Speaking of the world of Konosuba while it isn’t the most fleshed out world as of yet, the setting only contributes to it’s greatness. The world is as crazy as it’s characters with fun and interesting takes on standard fantasy tropes like quests and enemies. The characters have a place in the world and impact the world (mostly with negative results) and that is a dimension especially with comedy which separates the good from the great series. Incidents from previous episodes come back to haunt out characters, they destroy towns, incite riots, and get in trouble with the government of the kingdom. The world is full enough to let these plot points have impact. If they do things with no visible consequences then the comedy just falls flat which it certainly does not here.
While the episodes generally connect together, there is not a huge overarching plot for Konosuba. There are a few multiple episode arcs throughout the series but once you know the characters you are pretty much set. This suits the series perfectly as it allows for much more freedom along the way. Comedies tend to get bogged down by large story arcs as it shifts the focus away from just telling a funny story. With Konosuba the story is about the trouble they get into and how they get out of it. It is something you want to experience repeatedly and the episodic structure does this.
For the technical aspects of the series, the animation does what it needs to do with a great job done on changing styles for an exaggerated comedic effect. Overall, it looks really nice with great world and character designs. The soundtrack is rally interesting to listen to as they juxtapose the comedy with action/ fantasy epic type music and works really well. To see the characters fail mightily while triumphant music is playing is just great to watch. The theme songs are all great with my favorite being the closing song to season “Wanna Go Home” sung by Megumin, Aqua, and Darkness. There was love put into this series and it shows with the music and animation.
While the series is pretty close to perfection, there are a couple of slight detriments to the series. The first is that the pace of comedy is too inconsistent. Some jokes happen at such a lighting quick rate that they are easy to miss. These jokes are all great, but having to rewind and re watch because of a blink and you miss it moment can be a bit annoying. Also there are episodes in the series where the pacing does jump around a bit- from crazy and insane to really slow and calm. These transitions can be a bit jarring to watch and really throw you off of the rhythm of the episode. These are just small things to note and they don’t harm the overall viewing experience too much. Finally, the series does have some mature humor which (while I enjoyed it) may not be for everyone. There are some adult jokes which even though they are tastefully done might turn off some people.
Konosuba is a series which understands how to do a comedy well. From it’s easy to parody inspiration source to a quirky and fun cast of characters which have an amazing chemistry together, Konosuba is an amazing comedy series. The series embraces the absurd but does it in a way which does not compromise it’s intelligence. The characters, stories, and setting all contribute to a series which is a an absolute treat to watch especially if you are fan of Iseekai or fantasy anime. For these reasons, Konosuba receives a ranking of Platinum and a place among anime classics.
Pros: – Megumin, Aqua, Kazuma, and Darkness are all amazing
– Great supporting cast
– Amazing animation- especially with character expression
– Superbly setup jokes and gags
– Series has a fun and fleshed out world
– Funny critique of fantasy/gaming anime
Cons: – Some of the jokes happen too fast
– Some of the more mature humor may not be for everyone
– Some instances where episodes slow down too much
This concludes my review of Konosuba. What did you think of the series? Please comment below. If you enjoy my content please follow me on Twitter (@Railgunfan75) for news and updates. So until next time, this Railgunfan75 signing off and reminding you to watch out for those EXPLOSIONS!! See ya soon.